LGBTQ rights organization Topeka Pride unveiled a new billboard at 21st and Western Avenue, on Monday, August 31, at 5:30 pm. The billboard features the new Topeka Pride logo, as well as upcoming events hosted by Topeka Pride.
Topeka Pride, originally founded in 2014, is a new up and coming group supporting LGBTQ rights. The billboard is a milestone for the group, and features their new symbol designed by artist Dave Navarro Jr. A celebration was also held at the base of the billboard, where Topeka Pride merchandise was sold, and leaders of the organization spoke a few words regarding the organization and its plans in the future.
Dave Brennen, director of communications for Topeka Pride, gave a few words praising Navarro for his help in design work for the organization.
“He’s helped with all of our posters for events we have. He’s wonderful, in fact we’ve labeled him as one of our biggest sponsors,” said Brennan.
Kimberly Dougherty, vice president of Topeka Pride, was the woman behind the idea for the billboard.
“The billboard today was inspired by the idea that we wanted a very visual, appealing, and large sign of what Topeka Pride stands for, which is love, and equality, and support of all the folks in the LGBTQ community and allies,” said Dougherty.
During her speech, Dougherty expressed her happiness with the billboard and also gave a few words about her intentions to help the LGBTQ community in Topeka.
“I am a straight, white, middle-class woman who believes in courage, who believes in equality, and who will fight for people that are treated less than. I’m not afraid of hate, and I’m not afraid of prejudice. I will combat them with the strongest thing I can and that is love and acceptance. Every year… We’re going to let more kids know that it’s okay to be who they are, and we’re going to show more courage, until this community is known nation-wide for its pride, and for its love, and for its acceptance. That’s my mission,” said Dougherty.
The members of Topeka Pride also took a moment to thank the donors and supporters who helped in the creation of the billboard. Kaitlin’s Kloset, a new non-profit made to help provide clothing and refuge to victims of domestic violence, members of the Universalist Unitarian church, and Planting Peace, the organization behind the Equality House, were among them.
“[Planting Peace] donated over half of the funds needed, they were huge in making sure the billboard happened and they’re a huge supporter,” said Dougherty.
In closing, Topeka Pride announced that the opening of a new LGBTQ center is currently in the works for the citizens of Topeka, a place that could help support and information for the LGBTQ community and its allies.
Washburn freshman and Universalist Unitarian church member Zachary Pine was also at the event, and encouraged Washburn students to get involved with Topeka Pride.
“There’s several things you can do, just as little as buying a bracelet, to going to the Pride events, you can serve on the board, and it also helps makes Washburn more accepting and diverse,” said Pine.
The billboard also displays a list of upcoming Topeka Pride events including a Drag Show on September 26th at 9 pm, a parade on September 27th at 1 pm, and a street fair on September 27th at 2 pm. Those interested in supporting Topeka Pride are advised to visit their Facebook page under the same name, or their website, Topekapride.org.